In the beginning when people starting becoming identified as being gifted, the original scales they used to measure that were the IQ tests. If you scored above 130 on an IQ test that meant that you were gifted. That was it.
But over time some problems revealed themselves:
- People performed at different levels on IQ tests at different testing times. In many cases there were people who would fall into the gifted category on one taking of the test and not on another. So were they gifted or not?
- Biases were revealed in the IQ tests themselves where people of a certain race, gender or ethnic background would be more likely to achieve a higher score than others who didn’t belong to this category. So how could you judge if someone was gifted if they belonged to any kind of minority?
- Other characteristics began to be recognized as being part of giftedness, including creativity and persistence, so that IQ wasn’t the only determining factor. These became measured by additional standardized tests, plus subjective information gathered from educators and parents. In other words, the opinions of those around the proposed gifted person would be included in the determination. But how could these results then be determined consistently?
This third step in understanding giftedness is where many school districts are today. They haven’t yet resolved the questions that still remain about this level, but they do what they can. Many other districts still rely only on IQ, again with unresolved issues regarding testing differences.
So what does this mean for the gifted adult?
If you happened to be identified as being gifted in childhood then one of these methods was probably used to make the determination.
But if no one ever told you specifically that you were gifted then you’ve probably been on a long path trying to find this out for yourself. You were probably not necessarily trying to decide if you were gifted or not, since that particular idea many not have even crossed your mind, but were more likely just trying to figure out exactly who you were and why you seemed so different from other people.
As a self-determined gifted adult, you’ll probably not rush off to take a formal IQ or other standardized test if you haven’t had one before, just to find out what your IQ measures this time. But you can tell that you’re gifted by using other approaches.
If you know that you’re pretty smart, in or out of school, you’re on the creative side and you’ve got some big ideas that you spend time following, you’re probably on the right track to knowing that you’re gifted.
Using characteristics instead of specific measures is, at least in my opinion, a much better determinant of giftedness. Finding a unique set of characteristics in someone may be a better determinant of giftedness because it includes behaviours over time and not necessarily those that occur only at one particular moment.
(If you want to see if you have these gifted characteristics, take the quiz on the right side of this page or at this link. It’ll give you a great place to start your exploration. Here’s a hint though: read the questions carefully. If you answer blindly you may not get a very accurate result.)
In the end, I think if you’re gifted, on some level you know that you are. Not necessarily at the conscious level, at least in the beginning, but if the posts and articles on this site resonate with you, I’ll bet the still small voice you can hear inside when everything is quiet will tell you there’s something more to you that you need to explore.